The Woodward School, Pioneer in Women’s Education, Inspires Next Generation of Voters Through Reader's Theatre
QUINCY, MASS. – The Woodward School, a 122-year-old independent college preparatory school for girls in the heart of Quincy Center, recognized this election season with an inspiring, dramatic reinterpretation of Susan B. Anthony’s historic speech, after her arrest for casting an illegal vote in the presidential election of 1872. Susan B. Anthony was a suffragist, Women’s Rights Campaigner, Temperance Worker, Labor Activist, Educational Reformer, and Abolitionist. For her act of voting, Anthony was tried and fined $100, which she refused to pay.
Students and faculty were in attendance, as students Zoe Strassel (Quincy), Fiona Ozyurt-Powers (Dedham), and Hailey Peckham (Canton) served as readers, while students Angel Okeibunor (Quincy), Ronia Peterson (Randolph), and Jordan Cedrone (Braintree) served as movers creating tableaus, in this dramatic reinterpretation.
“We the people of the United States…we the whole people… not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men… are women not persons? I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not.”
“She campaigned all across the country declaring Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less,” recited the students.
Following the dramatic read, recently appointed Headmaster Walter Hubley addressed the students, “By a show of hands, is the environment important to you? Are human rights important to you? Are animal rights important to you? Is the future of education important to you…” The litany of questions was responded to with overwhelming agreement from students. Hubley then asked, “By a show of hands, do you feel government represents your values?”, and almost every hand stayed down.
Hubley then requested a small group of students to stand apart from their fellow students and stated, “I do not have the solutions to all these concerns, but I do have an answer to why you may not feel government represents your values. This small group of your classmates beside me represents the 38.9% of 18-24 year-old citizens who will exercise their right to vote in this election.” Hubley continued, “Fewer than half of that small group (15.9%) will vote in local city elections, where citizens receive most of their services from government.”
“The good news is, the future has not happened yet, and what’s past is not prologue. It is incumbent upon you to honor Susan B. Anthony’s fight and change what happens next. Ms. Anthony’s call to action is a call to vote” Hubley stated.
Civic engagement is a centerpiece of Woodward’s mission of leadership. The Woodward School was teaching young women about public activism and civics 30 years before women had the right to vote.